Variation in flight morphology in a female polymorphic damselfly: intraspecific, intrasexual, and seasonal differences

Bots, J.; Breuker, C. J.; Van Kerkhove, A.; Van Dongen, S.; De Bruyn, L.; Van Gossum, H.
January 2009
Canadian Journal of Zoology;Jan2009, Vol. 87 Issue 1, p86
Academic Journal
In aerial animals, flight morphology needs to be designed to allow daily behavioural activities. Within species differences in behaviour can therefore be expected to relate to differences in flight morphology, not only between males and females but also between same-sex members when they use different behavioural strategies. In female polymorphic damselflies, one female morph is considered a male mimic that resembles the male’s body colour and behaviour (andromorph), whereas the other is dissimilar (gynomorph). Here, we questioned whether males, andromorphs, and gynomorphs of the damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum (Charpentier, 1840) differ in flight morphology, with andromorphs being more similar to males than gynomorphs. In addition, we evaluated whether differences in flight morphology are consistent or whether some morphs are more plastic in response to seasonal environmental fluctuations. Most morphometrics showed similar seasonal plasticity for males and both female morphs, which could only partly be explained from allometry. Consistent with high manoeuvrability in flight, males had broader wings and lower wing loading than females. Variation between female morphs was less pronounced, with no consistent differences in length, aspect ratio, total surface, and wing loading. However, we detected morph-specific differences in shape and width, with andromorphs having broader wings than gynomorphs similarly to males. Chez les animaux qui vivent en milieu aérien, la morphologie du vol doit être organisée de façon à permettre les activités comportementales quotidiennes. Au sein d’une même espèce, on peut donc s’attendre à ce que les différences de comportement soient reliées à des différences de morphologie du vol, non seulement entre les mâles et les femelles, mais aussi entre les membres d’un même sexe qui utilisent des stratégies comportementales différentes. Chez les demoiselles polymorphes femelles, une des formes femelles (l’andromorphe) est considérée être un mime du mâle et sa couleur corporelle et son comportement ressemblent à ceux du mâle, alors que l’autre forme (la gynomorphe) est différente du mâle. Nous recherchons ici si les mâles, les andromorphes et les gynomorphes de la demoiselle Enallagma cyathigerum (Charpentier, 1840) diffèrent dans leur morphologie du vol et si les andromorphes sont plus semblables aux mâles que les gynomorphes. De plus, nous évaluons si les différences de morphologie du vol sont stables ou si certaines formes d’individus ont plus de plasticité en réaction aux fluctuations environnementales saisonnières. La plupart des données morphométriques affichent une plasticité saisonnière semblable chez les mâles et les deux formes de femelles, qui ne peut s’expliquer qu’en partie par l’allométrie. En accord avec leur plus grande manoeuvrabilité au vol, les mâles possèdent des ailes plus larges et une charge alaire plus faible que les femelles. La variation entre les formes femelles est moins prononcée et il n’y a pas de différences constantes dans la longueur, l’allongement d’aile, la surface totale et la charge alaire. Nous avons décelé, cependant, des différences spécifiques à la sorte de femelle dans la forme et la largeur de l’aile; comme les mâles, les andromorphes possèdent des ailes plus larges que celles des gynomorphes.


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